Hearing Loss: America's Most Common Work-Related Injury

Hearing Loss: America's Most Common Work-Related Injury

Hearing loss is the most common work-related injury in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to researchers, roughly 22 million Americans are exposed to damaging levels of occupational noise each year. While exact numbers of affected workers are hard to come by, an estimated $242 million is spent annually on workers’ comp benefits for employees with hearing loss.

CDC researchers analyzed the prevalence of hearing impairment in nine different industries employing individuals from over 25,000 U.S. companies between 2003 and 2012. Not only did they find hearing loss was common among workers in a variety of occupations, they discovered it can significantly affect some more than others, including those employed in the following sectors:

  • Mining
  • Construction
  • Manufacturing
  • Health Care and Social Assistance

Hearing loss in the workplace is typically caused by exposure to loud noises that destroy nerve endings in the inner ear. In workplaces, harmful noises are typically produced by things like heavy machinery and power tools. Increased exposure to hazardous levels of noise will result in more dead nerve endings and the potential for permanent hearing loss, tinnitus, or both.

The ability to hear is critical to daily life. It allows us to converse and easily share ideas with others, enjoy sounds and music, function well in the workplace, and help us avoid danger when we hear warning signs. This is why organizations like OSHA require employers to protect employees and their hearing, especially in settings where loud noises are common. In 2015, U.S. businesses paid more than $1.5 million in penalties for not protecting employees from harmful noise.

In an effort to reduce the prevalence of hearing loss, OSHA has implemented its “Hear and Now” program, which educates employers and workers about dangerous noise levels, the harmful effects of hearing loss, and the proper use of ear protection. New technology is also being developed to alert workers in real time when noise levels become hazardous.

The Barrera Law Firm, PLLC helps clients throughout Alexandria and the state of Virginia navigate the workers compensation and personal injury claim process. If you have questions about your work-related injury, contact our firm for a FREE consultation.